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MSI P6N SLI Platinum MSI P6N SLI Platinum: The 650i chipset from NVIDIA shares a lot in common with the 680i, so we see how MSI's iteration stacks up.
Date: May 4, 2007
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

BIOS

As expected, MSI have used an AMI BIOS for the P6N SLI Platinum. It's features are not as extensive as those you would find in a higher end board but certainly everything you could need for general use is there.

Aside from the usual features you would expect to find in the BIOS, MSI also provide options for overclocking. Again, the options are not as extensive as you would find in a higher end board, but this is reflected in the price. Being an MSI board, MSI's CoreCell is featured to provide a combination of BIOS and Windows software tweaking. Indeed, the P6N SLI Platinum also provides support for tweaking graphics card voltages via software with compatible (MSI) graphics cards.

D.O.T. Overclocking for the easy option is available, giving you an up to 10% dynamic overclock according to CPU load or your chosen setting. Of course you can also set the options manually which is the preferred method if you're using a Core CPU; you'll be hard pushed to find a Core CPU that won't go well beyond 10% above stock.

An extensive selection of manual memory tweaking options are available, 10 options in one place. Voltage options for the CPU, Memory, Northbridge and Southbridge are available together in another. Maximum CPU voltage goes to 0.3875V above stock, while memory can be set to 2.8V. Northbridge voltage goes to 1.5V, Southbridge voltage to 1.7V and FSB VTT voltage can be increased by 20% in 2% intervals.

Naturally FSB adjustment is here, and you can drop the multiplier on Dual Core CPU's with the right BIOS. Memory speed can be adjusted separately from the CPU between 400 and 1400 MHz. CPU FSB can be set between 400 and 2500 MHz (100-625). All of these settings are typed in manually rather than chosen from a list (with the original BIOS), allowing you to jump from 1066MHz straight to 1333MHz. The divider settings are completly absent, but are infact totally automatic. The downside to that is twofold; first you won't know what the divider is unless you use CPU-Z or similar, and it negates you manually maximizing your memory. As has been said though, you can adjust the memory speed manually, so with a little time and math, you can get pretty close.

Also, one other oddity, and this is dependant on the version of the BIOS you use, but the C1E control is hidden. Pressing F4 reveals it on the V0.2 bios.

All in all, it's not exactly an extensive BIOS but at the same time, the most important options are there. It does have the upside of reducing the amount of tweaking you need/can do so setting your system up during manual overclocking is a quicker affair; you pretty much disable anything like EIST or C1E, set the memory and PCIe numbers, and just start ramping up the FSB.

Testing

Test Setup: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU X6800 @ 2.93GHz (2 CPUs), 2GB DDR2, Geforce 7900GT, Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista Home Premium (all benchmarks were obtained under the Windows XP enviroment)

For comparison we are using the Abit AW9D Motherboard. This board is a 975x based board, so in theory should offer higher perfomance than a lower end board such as the MSI P6N SLI. However, the 975x chipset is also not as new as the 650i so should offer an interesting comparison.

Test Software is as follows:

- Our standard synthetic suite gets an upgrade. We like to use Sandra (System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) to collect some numbers as a base. The numbers collected are consistent and are easily comparable between systems during tests.

- A good indicator of CPU/Motherboard performance is version 4.2, by Xavier Gourdon. We used a computation of 10000000 digits of Pi, Chudnovsky method, 1024 K FFT, and no disk memory. Note that lower scores are better, and times are in seconds.

- CDex v170b2 was used to convert a 440.5MB Wav file to a 320kbs MP3. Times are in minutes:seconds, and lower is better.

- We used an Animatrix file, titled , and a WAV created from VirtualDub. The movie was then converted it into a DVD compliant MPEG-2 file with a bitrate of 5000. Times are in minutes:seconds, and lower is better.

DVD Shrink - We ripped the War of the Worlds bonus feature off the disk at 100% and compressed the file from the hard drive to 70%. Times are in minutes:seconds, and lower is better.

- Photoshop is perhaps the defacto standard when it comes to photo editing tools. Given that it is so popular, we incorporated Driver Heaven's latest test into our review process. Lower scores are better, and times are in seconds.

- We run the full suite of tests offered by 3DMark06 at 640x480 and collect the total 3DMark score and CPU score.

Doom 3, Far Cry, Unreal Tournament 2004 @ 640x480, HQ Settings - While higher resolutions tax the video card, lower resolutions rely on CPU and subsystem speed. Higher scores are better.

All benchmarks will be run a total of three times with the average scores being displayed. Any system tweaks and ram timings were configured to the best possible for each platform.

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